Author Services

Proofreading, Editing, Critique

Proofreading, Editing, Critique

Getting help with your book from a professional editor is always recommended but often just too expensive. We have partnered with a professional editor with 30 years of experience to provide quality writing services at affordable prices.

Visit our Writing Services Page
Hundreds of Helpful Articles

Hundreds of Helpful Articles

We have created hundreds of articles on topics all authors face in today’s literary landscape. Get help and advice on Writing, Marketing, Publishing, Social Networking, and more. Each article has a Comments section so you can read advice from other authors and leave your own.

What's Deadpan?

Humor is one of the few things that writers can use in their work to keep their audience entertained and also more interested in their work. We are going to look at a form of sarcasm that writers can use to make their work humorous. Have you ever heard of the word 'deadpan'? Let’s get started with its definition.

The definition of deadpan

Deadpan is a type of sarcasm in which one intentionally communicates facts or known information about something plainly and bluntly for a comical effect. One does not express any emotions when communicating. Deadpan is also known as dry humor or dry wit. The effect of deadpan mostly comes out well when used to show the contrast of a situation or idea. Sometimes it may come out offensive, but that’s just before you understand it. Consider the following example:

(Example one)

Pitt and his friends plan to go on a vacation to the Maldives. On their day of departure, his friends insist that they should pray before taking their flight. Once their plane is high in the sky, it starts rocking and shaking vigorously from turbulence. Pitt’s friends are scared and worried that something bad might happen. Pitt who is relaxed in his seat calmly says, “It looks like you guys prayed for a safe flight, but you forgot to say what model of aircraft we were using. What if the angels sent to look out for us are busy searching for our plane?”

In the example above, you can only relate to the humor once you get the context of Pitt’s words. Pitt is mocking his friends for being scared of the situation in their plane when they had prayed. Pitt’s sense of dry humor does not necessarily mean or show that he does not believe in God or prayer. Instead, he is acknowledging God’s power. Pitt’s use of deadpan shows the contrast between what was expected and what is currently happening.

How to use deadpan

Put it in the right context

One of the easiest ways to use deadpan is making sure it is in the right context. People who cannot relate to the context may find it hard to get the joke.

Be brief

When using deadpan, be brief. Saying a lot of words may dilute its effect or make it irrelevant. The reader may get lost in the trail of words and he or she may never get the joke. Saying a lot of words may also sound like an explanation of the joke to the reader. Well somebody once asked, “How do you tell a bad joke from a good joke?” When no one answered, he said, “You know it’s a bad joke when you have to explain it.”

Use deadpan to criticize or mock

This way, the reader will notice and get the effect of deadpan more easily. Sarcasm works on the principle of criticism and mockery.

Be simple

You do not have to come up with very complicated ideas for your deadpan to be good. Good deadpan is simple.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya